Recently, authors and bloggers have been writing about the importance of establishing a ‘platform’ for individuals and organizations. Michael Hyatt, the former CEO of the enormous publishing company, Thomas Nelson Publishers, discusses this in his book, “Platform” that how you frame your message is as important as what you say.
Regardless of how much you agree with this premise, what isn’t up for debate is everyone needs a platform. No one is going to create it for you, and its importance cannot be stressed enough to build and maintain a vibrant culture in your organization. It’s essential that your strategic messages resonate with your customers and helps them find the answers to their most critical questions.
The biggest problem with much of today’s communications is that it needs to fight for attention simply because it is not well differentiated. If your goal is to build awareness for your business you’ll need both a strong visual and textual message to be successful. Simply stating your organization’s vision and mission statements is not going to persuade anyone to feel drawn toward your organization, unless your communications resonate with their needs.
In other words, primary communications without a specific purpose, such as a new product and program, will spin yours and your audience’s wheels with weak results. Focus is essential. Otherwise you risk talking at your audience with little impact. Here are a few things you can do to build an effective platform.
1. Place your messaging in the order that your customers prefer.
A simple example is not feeling the need to alphabetize your pull-down menus on your website. If your top topic starts with an ‘S’ put it on top to make it easy to find. Make it obvious. Things that go first have more importance than those that go last. Obviously this necessitates you understanding what customers value most.
2. Figure out what your customers want to learn.
Place your customers’ interests at the center of everything you do. Highlight it. Don’t feel the need to build up to a crescendo as if you’re writing a symphony. Communications is about making critical information easy to find and understand, and a lot of drama is not required to be successful. In fact, too much drama can inhibit successful communications.
3. Research and track the results of your communications.
Figure out what people spend the most amount of time looking at,push to the back areas they are less interested in and consider eliminating them altogether if they’re ignored. Don’t keep sacred cows! In communications it is equally important to figure out what not to include, than what is. No one likes to have to weed through large amounts of information.
The critical mass of all of this is that effective communications start, develop, and reinforce meaningful relationships with your customers and prospects. Making it easy to talk with you forms a strong relationship. To accomplish this, it’s essential that you build communications they will enjoy, versus pushing your communication messages too hard. Remember to be creative and persuasive, but not overly aggressive.